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Michael Douglas in Falling Down
Michael Douglas in Falling Down

Falling Down” is a 1993 psychological thriller film by Joel Schumacher, with Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall as its main protagonists. It was a commercial success in United States and nowadays, the film has received a cult status. Let’s see why.

We follow a day in the life of William “Bill” Foster (Michael Douglas) in a very hot day in Los Angeles. Foster (or D-Fens because he was working as a defense engineer) is in his car and wants to arrive in time for the birthday of his daughter. Although his ex-wife does not want him to be there, he wants to go anyway. The day starts bad, as he is stuck in traffic and his air condition does not work. Therefore, he decides to leave his car, take his briefcase and go on foot.

While walking around, he has a series of unpleasant encounters which trigger him. Foster is a fragile man, with mental issues. The situations he gets in, only make his issues worse. All he wanted was to go to his daughter’s birthday. However, he will have to deal with impolite people, high prices, terrible burgers, latin gangsters, etc.

On the other side, Sergeant Martin Prendergast (Robert Duvall) is on the last day of work before retirement and the one who has to investigate the events. Prendergast, although he had to deal with several hard situations in his life, he tries to be positive. And through his thorough investigation, he will try to solve the violent incidents that Foster has created during the day. No matter that his boss did not respect him, he is the one to solve this case.

During the film, Los Angeles is not the city of angels we have in mind. On the contrary, it is a city with huge problems, high criminality and terrible conditions for its working class citizens. “Falling Down” is neither the first nor the last film that shows the poverty, alienation, marginalization and the psychological deterioration of an individual in a hostile metropolis.

Like other films, it raises questions about whether there is salvation for a guy like Foster. Is Foster a product of the capitalistic failure? Or Is he psychologically ill and unable to adapt to modern society? Or maybe a combination of both, which explain his violent outbursts?

Having said all the above, “Falling Down” is now considered a cult classic and universally loved due to the extreme scenes of its protagonist. Objectively, his actions are reprehensible. We would be liars though if we didn’t see ourselves on Foster on several occasions. Haven’t we all dealt with extreme situations with people who are parasites?

Believe it or not, this movie inspired two great bands to write songs about it. Iron Maiden composed “Man on the Edge” and Foo Fighters’s video clip for the song “Walk” is an homage to the film. You can hear them both down here.

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